Good News with First Local Climate Election

The good news is that three members of East Gippsland Climate Action Network (EGCAN) have been elected to the East Gippsland Shire Council (EGSC). Congratulations to Mendy Urie, Jane Greacen and Tom Crook. All are active in EGCAN. They were fortunate enough to gain the top three positions on the ballot paper, advertised on the same ticket and obviously kept their preferences tight

In the run up to the council elections I wrote two commentaries (here and here) urging electors to ‘Vote Climate’ and making a rough appraisal of the possibilities. I gave the ‘green light’ to six of the twenty-one candidates. Commenting on the EGCAN member chances of being elected I wrote: “Statistically, with about a third of the candidates in East Gippsland as climate emergency supporters, they should win three seats. However winning one seat will be an achievement, two a bonus and a third bordering on a miracle.”

Five of the candidates mentioned ‘climate’ in their 200 word statements – the top 3 on the ballot paper Mendy, Jane and Tom – as well as animal rights activist Kim Dutton and Dick Ellis. All but the latter (whom I placed in the ‘orange light’ group) are EGCAN members. A number of other candidates used the more general term ‘environment’ perhaps unaware that the climate crisis is an ‘existential’ crisis.

An analysis of first preferences on Friday (6.11) showed that Mendy Urie was just a few votes short of a quota and as anticipated had polled well. Both Jane and Tom Crook each received about half a quota. Of the six candidates recommended by this blog they received in total 28% of the primary vote or roughly 3 quotas. Also two of the three ‘red light’ candidates I identified polled poorly.

My message to the newly elected council is to use every opportunity to speak out on climate science. Educating the council is a low cost action and persuading councillors and council employees to accept the science and the need for climate action should be one of the first jobs, then extend this to the wider community, acting where possible in a bipartisan, apolitical manner. Joining the Climate Council’s ‘Cities Power Partnership’ should be an early step. Reconsidering the ‘Climate Emergency’ declaration should also be on the agenda.*

And my advice to Mendy, Jane and Tom is to act as if the next four years is your only opportunity – the chances of a poll draw similar to this are very long indeed. In this critical decade of the climate emergency we need to ‘vote climate’ and ‘act on climate’ at every opportunity.

*Some dated suggestions (2015) for climate action I have made to the EGSC are here.